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The Rivian R1T electric pickup offers a compelling package. Instead of bells and whistles, this U.S. startup focused on usable technological improvement, such as an electric motor for each wheel. What’s more, the company. brought the first electric truck to market. While many Americans may not yet be ready for a full battery electric truck, MotorTrend reviewers found the Rivian revolutionary.

Rivian has been working on its electric truck for years

This is a 2022 Rivian R1T electric pickup, possibly MotorTrend's truck of the year. | Rivian
2022 Rivian R1T | Rivian

RJ Scaringe founded Rivian Motors in 2009. The company quickly decided to build an off-road-ready electric truck. Since then, it has been developing the quad-motor Rivian truck. It has also engineered the 2022 Rivian R1S SUV on the same drivetrain.

Rivian did not bank on an extremely edgy look (like the Cybertruck). It also did not try to cut costs down to fleet truck prices (like the Ford F-150 Lightning). The automaker did insist on available long-range battery packs and a separate electric motor for each wheel. It is the first production vehicle with this quad-motor drivetrain.

The startup finally bought a factory in Normal, Illinois. It built the first customer-ready truck in September of 2021, making the R1T the first electric truck to market.

MotorTrend reviewed the Rivian R1T: “The quickest truck we’ve ever tested” and “This changes everything”

When MotorTrend finally got a chance to drive the Rivian R1T, the truck blew the reviewers away. Firstly, it is very fast.

Each of the Rivian’s four motors makes upwards of 200 horsepower. When you floor the accelerator, the vehicle’s software spins each tire just as fast as it can, without breaking loose.

MotorTrend tested the Rivian truck’s 0-60 MPH time at 3.1 seconds. The team found it could continue through the quarter-mile in just 11.6 seconds at 110.8 MPH. After the test, the publication crowned it the world’s fastest truck.

The R1T is not just fast in a straight line. MotorTrend said it corners like a sports sedan–even fully loaded. While cornering, it uses a process called torque-vectoring to put more power to its outside wheels and accelerate through the corner. The reviewers could not break its tires loose. When they tried, the truck only got faster.

“We felt the R1T’s torque-vectoring superpowers at work: The outside-rear motor powered up and brought the R1T’s nose around, and we blasted out of the turn like the Millennium Falcon.”


The MotorTrend team loved the Rivian truck so much, they drove it cross-country


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The team at MotorTrend was so impressed with the Rivian truck, they asked to borrow it for longer. The reviewers set off to navigate the Trans-America off-road trail. The Rivian overland transcontinental expedition was the first electric vehicle trip of its kind.

After weeks in a pair of Rivian R1T’s, the MotorTrend team only had one complaint: the luxurious Rivian interior is not engineered for overlanding. In addition, the entire concept of a fully electric truck may be impractical for many Americans.

But as MotorTrend’s editors gather to crown the Truck of the Year, practicality is not their only concern. For over 70 years, MotorTrend has sought to recognize excellence in engineering by bestowing its golden calipers on the Car of the Year and Truck of the Year.

The publication is announcing its Truck of the Year on Monday, December 13th, and promises the selection may be “one of MotorTrend’s most significant since 1949.” If I was a gambling man, I’d bet MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year will be the 2022 Rivian R1T.

Until MotorTrend makes its announcement, you can read more about the transcontinental Rivian expedition.